Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ruthless Mini: Does ANYONE like Vanguard Strike?

I got one and a quarter games in this Saturday, against (shock!) people OTHER than 'Scape. The game I played to completion was a 1500 against Blood Angels, during which Vanguard Strike came up. Both of us immediately agreed it was an utter pain in the arse and did Dawn of War instead. Is this a trend?

Game details and VS musings after the jump.

I'd brought in a combined 1750 Necrons/CSM, which I scaled down to 1500 by removing the CSM. Lists were:

Master Bryss' Necrons
Overlord with Warscythe and Semp Weave on a Barge
Royal Court: 1 DespairTek with Veil O'Darkness, 4 Stormteks with Lightning Field (in one squad)
10 Warriors in an Ark
15 Warriors
10 Immortals
5 Tomb Blades with Shadowlooms and Particle Beamers
3 Heavy Destroyers

Enemy Blood Angels (Approx.)
Libby with Epistolary, Jump Pack, Enfeeble, Life Leech
Sanguinary Priest with Jump Pack
10 Tactical Marines with meltagun, power fist, missile launcher, in a Rhino (combat squadded)
10 Assault Marines with thunder hammer
10 Assault Marines with power fist
8 Sternguard with meltagun, 3 combi-meltas, power fist, Drop Pod
Baal Pred with heavy bolters
5 Devastators with 4 missile launchers

Basic game summary, based on what all my units were doing:

  • Game was whatever Seize Ground is called these days, 4 objectives. I cornered up on one objective with Immortals, which was ignored all game. I also deploy the Ark, Barge and Crypteks.
  • The SternPod went for my Ghost Ark and blew it up, with the contents later charged by the Command Barge. By Turn 4 my Over was dead and two Sternguard remained. Could have gone better.
  • While this is happening, the Combat Squad runs up in their Rhino, which is Haywired to death. When the Baal goes for Outflank, I try using the Veil and get stuck in limbo for a turn due to a mishap, leaving the newly-arrived Heavy Ds to kill it. They get rid of one HP, but are missiled to death. The Crypteks then come back and finish the job.
  • The Monolith does a decent job whittling the more scary Assault Squad (the one with the Libby and the Priest in it). It then gets wailed on by power fists. I move 1" back and try the Portal of Exile...which rolls 1" and therefore misses. I'm then blown up by a meltagun, with a blast radius of....1" again.
  • Having lost my left-side objective, I try reclaiming it with Warriors, but I can't reach.
  • Unit of the match has to be the Tomb Blades. They rained down a particle-based hell Brian Cox would have been proud of, killed the missile Combat Squad in combat and then killed the only Assault Marine within 3" of my second home objective, ensuring we were tied for objectives. Shame the BA player got First Blood and Slay The Warlord, as they ensured he won by 2 points.
Anyway, that was fun and all, but we have a serious question to answer. Why did we not do Vanguard Strike?

Well, I'll tell you. In Dawn of War and Hammer and Anvil, determining your deployment zone is very easy. You simply measure a set distance from your board edge. This makes these deployment types good for both Casual and Hyper-Efficient play, as it lets you get on with the game.

In Vanguard Strike, the easiest way to get your deployment line is to run a line down a diagonal on the board and then measure 12" from it. The problems with this are threefold. Problem one, you can't just run a tape measure down board centre as there is inevitably scenery in the way. Problem two, you can't run a tape measure a certain length from a board corner because you are likely to get the angle wrong. Problem three, your opponent also has to go through this routine, which really drags on.

I'm really not sure what reasoning GW had for using this over a table quarters setup. One possible factor is that you use more of the long board edge, reducing the impact of reserves who can come on anywhere on that line (making deployments like Spearhead favourable for mobile armies), but they already did that by banning you from reserving more than 50% of your units. The reasoning is definitely NOT anything to do with emphasising a 24" no-man's land, as Spearhead had that.

I suspect the main reason is that maybe GW felt like Speahead 'boxed in' your army too much, and VS gives you more room to spread your wings. Even if doing so would mean your enemy would go closer together and attack your weak flank, or something, I don't know, I'm not super-tactical, I'm Ruthless Casual.

Of course, all problems need solutions. I don't want the solution to be 'move the terrain,' as that defeats the purpose of a narrative terrain setup (we'll ignore the other kind as it's really a Snakes & Ladders idea with too much potential for being cruel and putting all your oppponent's terrain slots on the edge of the table). Maybe if both players held a piece of string at either side of the diagonal and carefully laid it down on top of any terrain while preserving the correct angle, it would work. But who in their right mind carries an ten-foot piece of string to war? Nobody. You'd forget.

Bryssnotes: According to maths, on a 6x4 board, your long board edge limit is about 50", and the short one about 34" (join the two points up with a line and that's your zone). That said, my own board is ever so slightly shorter than this, so I get 47" by 33" by manual measuring. But seriously, how many people can be bothered to cite Pythagoras to play a game of little plastic men?

In conclusion, Vanguard Strike is easily the stupidest deployment type in 6th Edition, which I already believe sometimes takes too long to do all the pre-game stuff. Deployment types should be player-intuitive and simple, and this is about as simple as any book by the aforementioned Professor Brian Cox.

Of course, maybe my friends and the GW Aberdeen playerbase are just idiots, but I doubt that. If any of you have found an easy way to do Vanguard Strike, tell me before I totally lose it.


sonsoftaurus said...

The string was my thought too. I don't mind it too much, but it is annoying trying to accurately stay within your deployment zone and also double check for linebreaker at the end.

Mark Mercer said...

I rarely play vanguard strike, most the time it is hammer and anvil. Vanguard strike though can take a little bit more effort to get deployed, and I do not think there's so many tricks you can do like pitched battle and hammer and anvil.

Mark Mercer said...

Oh, way we do it is get a tape measure and measure from corner to corner across the diagonal. We then lay down dice underneath the tape measure. Then we measure 12" from those dice either side and you've got your deployment line. Not too difficult tbh.

Master Bryss said...

I never even considered the Linebreaker issue before, Sons. That's more minus points right there.

Mercer, seems like a good method, but the fact that GW makes you devise your own method like that rather than making it clear what the best way to do it doesn't make the deployment look great, almost like they didn't really finish it.